What are the Differences between illustrations and patent drawings?

Patent drawings aren’t just like other kinds of drawings.

Patent illustrations aren’t intended to just show what an invention looks like. For utility patents, they need to be specific and detailed enough that someone “skilled in the art” can actually build the item described or use the method disclosed by the patent.

For example, if you’ve invented a new kind of bicycle, it’s not enough to submit a pretty picture of what it looks like – suitable for a magazine ad. You have to explain with pictures not just how to put the pieces together (like with Ikea directions), but how each part is made. You need enough details that someone who runs a bicycle factory can build your bicycle.

How many views do you need?

Patent drawings of a physical object need to fully show its appearance. For most three-dimensional objects, this will mean at least six views:  top, bottom, front, back, left, and right.

Other views may also be needed to make things clear to the patent examiner. For example, perspective views, sectional views, or exploded views may be appropriate. If the invention has moving parts, it may be necessary to show how the parts are arranged when the machine is in use.

Shading (the little lines on the patent drawing above) may be needed to indicate contours and different surfaces.

The US Patent Office has very specific rules about what patent drawings can and can’t include, and failing to follow these rules can get a patent application rejected – wasting time and possibly losing out on patent rights if another inventor beats you to the Patent Office.

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Computer-Aided Design (CAD) and Patent Drawings

In the past, patent illustrations could be ornate works of art, created by hand with fancy penmanship. These days, patent drawings are almost always created using CAD – computer-aided design.

CAD software is used by architects, engineers, drafters, and others to create precision drawings and technical illustrations. In some cases, CAD files can be fed directly into 3-D printers or other manufacturing devices to directly create physical objects.

However, unlike CAD drawings created for manufacturing purposes, patent drawings don’t normally include precise measurements.  In fact, including precise measurements in patent illustrations can be a really bad idea, since it can suggest to the patent examiner that you’re only claiming an invention with those exact measurements – and not larger or smaller models of the same thing.

Because the rules for creating drawings to accompany a patent application are so detailed and specific, not just anyone with CAD software can create patent illustrations correctly. To maximize the chances that your patent will be granted the FIRST time you submit your application, it’s a good idea to work with a professional, experienced patent drawing firm.

Learn More about Professional Patent Drawings

To know more about our patent illustration services and pricing, please email us at info@invention-patent-drawings.com or call us at +1-917-508-8816.